LAHORE: Absence of any national policy and legal framework to address issues of IDPs (Internally Displaced Person’s) in line with the principles of the United Nation and Pinheiro Principles on housing and property restitution for refugees and displaced persons is one of the main reasons for the invisibility and plight of the IDPs living in Punjab.
The Women’s Regional Network (Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) launches the report titled “Shattered Souls: Internally Displaced Women from Punjab, Pakistan” by women’s rights activist and development professional Saima Jasam. She has highlighted the issues of IDPs especially women.
The report was launched as a part of a larger series of launches across the three countries as well as across cities in Pakistan. I A Rehman (peace activist), Peter Jacob, Sardar Kalyan Singh and Tariq Masih Gill also spoke on the event.
“In Pakistan military operations were conducted in various districts of KPK and Balochistan to root out extremism and insurgencies. The operations pushed the human tragedy of displacement to a new level and left millions of people displaced and in many instances their basic rights violated,” the report revealed.
According to the report, 1.6 million people were displaced in 2015 alone. Earlier, a large number of population moved to reside in numerous host communities, a total of 77, 516 families (46 percent women), while 14, 668 families (91, 004 individuals of which 49 percent were women) moved to transitional IDP camps.
In 2008, 1.7 million people were displaced due to a military operation in South Waziristan, while in 2004-2006 some 84,000 people were displaced due to an ongoing conflict in District Dera Bugti, Balochistan, the report said.
The report is focused on displaced women from different parts of Pakistan, mostly KP who are settled in Punjab where WRN used “Community Conversations”- as a tool to reach out to conflict-affected women in this case — IDP women from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and some districts of Punjab displaced as a result of religious extremism or ethnic and sectarian conflict now residing in Punjab province. Community conversations also highlight displaced women’s marginality in a new environment as well as their concerns and perspectives on issues of militarisation, security, peace and justice.
Their fears, insecurities, priorities, and most importantly their roles as peacemakers in rebuilding their families and communities, formed the basis of the discussions.
The report recommends bringing up the concerns of women to the forefront and is being used by those involved in the humanitarian response, civil society and other actors working with displaced persons. It will also be used as an advocacy tool to build relationships with state actors to better address the needs of displaced women.
I A Rehman lauded the effort of WRN to highlight the problems of minority women IDPs in Punjab. Peter Jacob said rule of law must be ensured to address the issues of minorities. He said indigenous people also have their stakes and we need to redefine homeland in order to resolve the issues of displaced persons.
Sardar Kalyan Singh and Satwant Kour shared their experiences while Rukhshanda Naz stressed the need for a legal framework which can be greatly helpful in changing the plight of IDP women particularly from minority groups.